Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Killer Granola

"They" say that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I am not one to talk, as it is rare that I have a balanced breakfast (or Rosie usually ends up eating whatever I prepare for myself), or I get in a quick breakfast while she is eating her own. I love granola and have always been meaning to make my own and finally did. I usually buy the brand Bare Naked granola, but at $4-$5 a bag it can get a bit pricy. Not only did it make my apartment smell amazing, but now I have a quick breakfast for yogurt in the morning and don't really have to worry about it! This recipe hails from Giada at FoodNetwork.com, adapted by yours truly. She uses unsweetened cranberry juice but I substituted that for a water/OJ mixture. She also used a different nut mixture/ratio. The recipe is so simple overall, and I highly recommend it. Plus it stores great. Any of the nuts I used can be replaced for whatever you like/have at hand. The craisins can also be replaced with raisins if that's what you prefer. To make it extra sweet, add some chocolate chips once cooled completely:

-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
-2/3 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup orange juice
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 cups old fashion oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1/4 cup unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
-1/8 cup chopped pecans
-1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/4 cup flax meal (or wheat germ)
-1 cup craisins (can use raisins too)

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees
-In a small saucepan, add the maple syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar, water, orange juice, and salt over medium-high heat and stir or whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
-In a large bowl add the oats, all the nuts/seeds, and flax. Mix until incorporated.
-Pour the maple mixture into the pat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
-Pour onto a greased, rimmed baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
-Remove from the oven, add the craisins, toss, and spread out again.
-Bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown and "dried" out (in other words, it should no longer be mushy or soggy from the wet mixture).
-Let cool COMPLETELY before storing in an airtight container, breaking it up if you need to.

It's great for breakfast like I said- yogurt or even just with milk and fresh berries. I personally love it with froyo. Try it! It won't disappoint!

Makes about 5 cups granola


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Phyllo Wrapped Maple Dijon Salmon with Dill Sauce

Salmon is definitely one of our favorite go-to dinners, & one of my very first blog posts was puff pastry wrapped salmon, baked, topped with cucumber dill mayo. Since then I've posted many salmon ideas. I loved the idea of the puff pastry wrapped salmon, and it was indeed delicious, but I decided to experiment with phyllo dough this time. The pro is that it's lighter, & flakier. BUT Phyllo is way too delicate and temperamental to use on a regular basis (on my opinion), but there is a first for everything and I've been meaning to play around with it for a long long time.. and this was very successful if I may say so myself.

Phyllo Wrapped Maple Dijon Salmon with Dill Sauce

-2 wild salmon filets, skin removed with a paring knife (if any)
-1/4+2 tbsp. cup pure maple syrup
-2 tbsp. light & creamy Dijon mustard (if you don't have just use regular Dijon with a little bit of mayo)
-1 tsp. dried minced garlic

-Season the salmon filets with salt & pepper lightly on both sides, and place in a dish. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the salmon. Turn the salmon to coat with the marinade on both side. Let marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
-I used 4 sheets of phyllo dough, 2 per salmon filet. If you unwrap the phyllo more than a few hours before using, cover completely with damp paper towel and refrigerate.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and spray a baking rack & set atop a baking sheet
-Gently take the 2 sheets of phyllo, and place the salmon filet in the center. Wrap up the long sides, and then wrap the short sides under the filet and place on the baking rack. Do the same to the other filet(s). Brush the "packages" with melted butter/Earth Balance/margarine, and sprinkle with salt & black pepper.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until the salmon is cooked through (slide a knife through the center and it should go through smoothly) and phyllo is golden brown
-Serve with dill sauce

Dill Sauce:
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. finely chopped dill
-1 small garlic clove, grated or minced very finely
-salt & pepper
-pinch of sugar
-1 tsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
-small splash of water, just to thin the dressing a tiny bit, DON'T add too much
-Whisk together or add everything in a mini food processor
-Cover & refrigerate until serving


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chinese Chicken Peanut Stir Fry with Gingered Cabbage & Farro

My repertoire of Chinese-style recipes is about to explode. So it's high time That I unwind them here. It's definitely my favorite style of food (to eat & to cook), dating back to my first dinner out to Chosen in '94 when I turned 6! Anyway, whether it be beef or chicken or tofu, making Chinese food from scratch can't compare to the take out boxes (as in, it's better!). Let's get right to it. Farro in a chinese chicken stir fry? If you've never had farro go buy (brand: Roland, look for unpearled or semipearled). It's an awesome whole grain, the likes of wheatberries, and cooks like pasta. Its Italian but I use it a lot to substitute for brown rice when I need a switch-up.

-1/2 cup farro (for 2 people) cooked in a pot of boiling salted water for about 20 minutes until tender/al dente and then drained.

-2 chicken breasts, cubed
-2 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
-1 tbsp. sesame seeds
-1 tsp. roughly chopped parsley
-sprinkle of garlic powder, salt & pepper

--In a large Ziploc bag, mix together the flour, spices, parsley, and sesame
--Add the chicken and shake to coat. Set aside

Prepare the sauce:
--In a small bowl whisk together:
-2 heaping teaspoons brown sugar
-1/3 cup water
-1 teaspoon each rice vinegar and Tamari sauce (I cant live without San-J low sodium tamari sauce. It's my go to soy sauce)
-2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in about 3-4 tsp. of the mixture in a separate bowl and then add back to the sauce. Whisk together.

Prepare the vegis & the garnishes:
-3 cups shredded cabbage, washed and dried (napa, savoy, bagged, whatever)- it wilts down
-3 scallions, sliced
-1 tbsp. each of minced fresh ginger & garlic. Set aside

-Chop 2 tbsp. dry roasted peanuts & some mango
-Orange zest (for finishing the chicken)

-In a large sauté pan heat a tbsp. of canola oil & a tsp. sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the cubes of chicken in a single layer, let them sauté for a few minutes until browned before flipping them to cook on the other side. Don't move them or else they won't develop a good "crust". Add more oil as needed if the chicken is too dry. Transfer to a plate when the chicken is done but don't turn the fire off

-Immediately add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the pan and stir, letting sauté 30 seconds to a minute before adding the cabbage. Stir well, adding a pinch of salt, and sauté until its wilted and tender, about 3-4 minutes. When it's done, transfer to a bowl (I had the farro prepared in 2 bowls already, so I just added the cabbage right on top)

-Add the chicken back into the pan, an pour the sauce over it, swirl the chicken to coat, until the sauce thickens. Zest some orange zest right into the chicken, then add the 2 tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts & stir. Add on top of the farro and cabbage (I like all my chinese food together in one bowl). Alternatively you can add the chicken into the cabbage while it's wilting, adding the sauce into the cabbage/chicken mixture to make one homogenous combo. Whichever way you'd rather (I prefer the sauce just on the chicken)

Top with chopped mango (if you'd like) & serve!

If you have never thought outside of the box as far as your chicken goes, now is your chance! This was delicious if I may say so myself!!!! & easier than it seems. The key is to get all your parts & accompaniments as prepared as you can before starting to cook.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Caramelized Onion Tart

I love me some Puff Pastry ... it's very easy to use and totally convenient because God only knows I'd never attempt to make my own! My very first blog post was an homage to puff pastry, and here is another post of a deceptively simple appetizer (or main, whatever). The topping is even so flexible and can be used for all sorts of things. I make caramelized onions a lot, & especially on pizza. I had bought a bag of onions, not realizing that I already had a bag of onions at home. So, I decided to make caramelized onions & then decide afterwards what I'd use them for. I decided on the following options:
1. Caramelized onion pizza - we weren't gonna be home for dinner so that was out
2. Caramelized onion "jam"(just as a topping for bread) - not very practical
3. French onion soup - maybe if it wasn't 98 degrees out
4. Caramelized onion tart! YES!

To make caramelized onions the best, you need about 20 minutes to a half hour, and some patience. I used about 4-5 medium sized onions, sliced thinly in semicircles. Add some olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat (use a pan with large surface area so the onions saute the best). Normally when quick sauteeing onions, you'd wait until the oil is heated through before adding the onions, but you don't want to burn these onions, they cook low and slow basically. So add the onions as soon as you add the oil & stir to coat. Season with salt & pepper and saute until softened for a few minutes. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and stir. The brown sugar intensifies the sweetness of the onions as they cook. Stir well for a few minutes on high heat and then lower the heat to medium. Let saute for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and very soft, stirring well every few minutes, making sure the onions aren't burning.

Preheat the onion to 425 degrees. In the meantime, unfold a thawed sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface, and roll out all the sides to a large square and place on a baking sheet. Whisk 1 egg and brush on the whole pastry, leaving a 1/2-1" border. Brushing the egg wash all over helps seal the pastry in the oven so that it doesn't get soggy from the topping. Let the onions cool a bit before adding them to the pastry. The onions shrink down from a ton to about a cup or 2! Add all the onions to the pastry, leaving about 1/2"-1" border all around. Fold over all the sides and crimp with a fork, then brush the new exposed borders. Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Hope you enjoy your puff as much as I do!